In this week’s episode, Grace and Liel introduce the second block of episodes of their 2020 Growth Tool Kit for law firms, dedicated to intake and retention. They introduce the term “client-centered intake” and explain why law firms should adopt this intake approach.

During the episode, they cover the following elements of intake: availability, empathy and its importance, what telephone etiquette is and what factors you need to consider when creating your rules, and ABC (Always Be Closing)—why the intake agent has to retain control of the conversation.

After listening to this episode, you will learn what client-centered intake is, how your practice can benefit from implementing it, and what steps you have to take to implement it in your law firm.

Want to share your story, ask a question, or share your comments about the podcast with us?

You can connect with us by visiting our website: incamerapodcast.com

Send us your questions at ask@incamerapodcast.com

Enjoy the show? Please don’t forget to subscribe, tell your coworkers, and leave us a review!


Transcript

Liel: [00:00:00] Here is Martha. She works as a cashier at a local grocery store. Earlier in the week, she was involved in a car accident. A distracted truck driver run through a red light and hit her car. Martha’s car got totaled, but she didn’t feel any pain right after the accident. As a matter of fact, she was in shock. It was her first time involved in a car accident. Friday morning, she started feeling a sharp pain in her back while at work. Marta tells a co-worker what happened. The co-worker suggests calling an attorney. On her phone. Martha googles best car wreck lawyer near me and clicks, the first search result on the screen. It’s an ad from the Mercuri law firm she lands a page that speaks directly to her needs. Still, she decides to bounce back to the results page and clicked some next ad. The second ad leads her to a Website that you find overwhelming. She bounces back to the results page and clicks again on the Mercury LawFirm Ad. Martha’s clicks set back attorney Mercury’s Google Ads’ budget by $324 $162 per each click. Back to Martha. She’s having a busy day at work, so she cannot call the mercury law firm immediately, but she decides to work extra hard for the rest of the day so that she can finish her shift a few minutes early just to have enough time to call the Mercury law firm before the end of business day. Meet Jim. Jimm is a receptionist at the Mercury lawfirm, a solo practitioner law firm, Jim, is also in charge of intake. It’s 5:48 PM on a Friday. Just 12 minutes before closing time. Jim had a busy day, had multiple calls of prospects that didn’t have good cases. He was frustrated. But by this time Jim had already cleared his desk and all of his attention was on a group chat conversation with his friends about your weekend plans. He’s ready to leave. And counting the minutes to do so. At 5:49 PM, the phone rings at the mercurial firm. At the other end of the line is Martha.

Liel: [00:02:20] I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media, and this is in camera, where we have real conversations about legal marketing.

Liel: [00:03:00] Welcome to In camera. Private Legal Marketing Conversations. Today, I’m joined by Grace. Grace, how are you today?

Grace: [00:03:07] Good. How are you, Liel?

Liel: [00:03:08] I’m doing very well. Grace. Thank you very much for asking. And today we start with our second block of episodes, which will be dedicated to intake and retention. Grace, what our listeners can expect from the next three episodes.

Grace: [00:03:21] So we’re going to discuss essentially what it feels like and the things that you are involved in intake. We’re not going to go specifically into the types of intake. We may briefly discuss that a little bit between you and I. But mostly I think what we’re going to try and get everybody to understand is the different components of intake and kind of what it takes. Right. Things like timeliness. You know, maybe some ideas of consumer habits, a little bit about empathy and, of course, etiquette. And the last thing is ABC. We’ll get into that as we get to the end, though.

Liel: [00:03:59] Thanks for that, Grace. So is it fair to say that over the next three episodes we will cover the different channels where intake takes place and we will explore what are the best practices for intake and if there is a best path to lead to conversion?

Liel: [00:04:20] How do you feel about that?

Grace: [00:04:22] I like that. I like that. I think that we’re gonna get basically a nice deep dive into intake and retention rate. We’re gonna expose it all for everybody.

Liel: [00:04:30] That’s all I want to know. Whereas I need to know that you’re up for this challenge because they think it’s a complex conversation. I think we’re both very passionate about it and want to make sure that we’re going to we’re gonna do our best to try to cover it all. All right. I was like when it’s also like a plan. So today we’ll start with intake. So here’s let me start by sharing the grace This is why I think intake is so important. OK. Every call that goes on unanswered, a message that’s not followed up on becomes immediately a potential negative review for your law firm.

Liel: [00:05:08] Grace, do you agree with what I just said?

Grace: [00:05:10] We’re not 100, a 100 percent. It’s happened before. I’ve seen it many, many times. Right. Google review. They didn’t answer me. They didn’t get a hold of me data. And they weren’t even clients, but they could have been. So, yes, reviews could be potential negative opportunity rather than a positive one.

Liel: [00:05:31] Grace, you know, we always leave the takeaways for the end of the episode, but on this particular ocation as an exemption, I’m ready to give one take away. Already here. Not even two minutes into the show. I’m ready for the first take away. And here it is.

Liel: [00:05:52] If your law firm. He’s unable to get calls answered, stop immediately any marketing activity that you have. Sort out your intake process, your availability process, and then go back into marketing.

Liel: [00:06:12] Because every call that comes through and it doesn’t get an answer and the messages are not getting responded to will potentially turn us grace just sit for a potential review on Google, on Facebook or any of the other platforms that matter to you, that matter to your strategy, and that could create harm for your law firm.

Liel: [00:06:35] One of the most basic things that a law firm has to implement is an effective intake process before they even start implementing a sophisticated marketing strategy. What do you think? Grace?

Grace: [00:06:49] Oh, my goodness. That’s the first thing I always tell people.

Grace: [00:06:52] And like, if you don’t have anyone answer the phones, why are you going to start doing advertising? You’re going to spend thousands of dollars on advertising, but you have no one to convert them. That’s exactly what you’re doing. You need to have the systems and everything in place. As he said, this is a takeaway for everybody, especially for law firms here. You guys need to have this stuff in place before you start spending money on the wrong things. And then it turns into a big problem.

Liel: [00:07:21] Here’s another point that I have about intake. OK, so. Conversion in legal marketing. We call it as the act. That a prospect completes when they finally gathered the courage to reach out. For legal help now, in many cases, this is a very, very difficult step to take for these individuals.

Liel: [00:07:51] They’re distressed. They’re afraid or intimidated maybe. And when they’re met with silence, it should come as no surprise that this disappointment and frustration settle things. And as you very rightly mention, Grace in one of our previous episodes. People are more likely to talk and share when they’ve had a negative experience than when they actually had a positive one. And so this is a good example of one of those situations when people can end up sharing this frustration in platforms where other potential prospects and clients may go to research your law firm before deciding to convert. And this can be damaging. So I think we both agree that intake it’s a very, very, very critical step for the success of your digital marketing and in general marketing.

Grace: [00:08:45] You could call it the customer service and or lifeblood of your business.

Liel: [00:08:50] Now, Grace. Let me let me. Let me ask you about something else. Right. So we’ve been to many conference over the past year, and there was a very interesting debate going on about whether intake is part of the sales process or is it customer service or arguing that the sales trends, the sales transaction gets completed the moment that the client converts. And so therefore, by the time that the client is calling, it’s already customer service. Right. Well, we’re not going to really focus this entire conversation on that. But I do want to know if you have an opinion.

Grace: [00:09:26] So I definitely do.

Grace: [00:09:29] Having been on different sides of the coin in terms of the sales and or marketing side of it and or, you know, how you’re seeing intake could be sales or customer service. I think it’s both. It’s always both. Right. Because you should always see. Always. Always. No matter what you’re doing, whether you’re selling or serving, you should always be serving the customer. And as a customer service representative, you should always be selling the customer while serving them. So to me, it’s a mute point. I don’t even think it matters. I think that you should always be serving the customer. And for the company and for yourself, you should always be serving the business as well. Does that make sense?

Liel: [00:10:11] It does Grace, with that being said, let’s now move on in looking to what are the basic elements for a good and successful Client-oriented intake. Now, Grace, would you care explaining our audience? Why are we using the term client-oriented intake as opposed to just intake?

Grace: [00:10:32] You let me know if this is what you think or why we’re using that term. But personally, it has to be client-oriented, right. Rather than just specifically about intake because it’s about the client. Just like we’ve been saying from the very beginning, it’s about the client or prospect. It doesn’t matter if they’re not a client, it’s about the customer. Right. So having it be client oriented rather than just doing it for the sake of doing it like we do sometimes for sales. You can’t have that kind of mentality going into it. It has to be client-oriented. That is super important phrase to even has it as a conception in your head. And make sure that you understand that every single time you talk to a brand new person on that on the phone.

Liel: [00:11:17] That’s exactly what I had in mind. Grace, a client-oriented intake is intake that you do with a purpose is intake when you’re actually putting the caller at the center of things and you really take the lead from then and you adapt and you listen and you make sure that everything that you do answers to their concerns, answers their needs and is of course delivered in a timely way so that it is relevant to them while it matters. So with that being said, Grace, why don’t we start deep exploration in to the elements of successful court client-oriented intake?

Liel: [00:11:59] So the first one is timeliness. We have to be timely. Ok, so here’s an interesting stats that I found according to FindLaw when hiring a lawyer. People tend not to shop around for too long, meaning that most people will hire someone after talking to one or two law firms at most.

Liel: [00:12:19] So, Grace, why do you think law firms should spend time in understanding very well who is their market in their consumer patterns?

Grace: [00:12:35] So this goes back to the customer journey. So for those of you who don’t know or haven’t heard necessarily about what the customer journey is, it’s a huge component of the customer experience. Right. I always go back to consumer behavior and kind of you yourself. And when you go out and you look for something and what is the journey that you take to get to that person, right, or to that company or to make that buy or consideration of that product. Right. So think about it in this sense. If you go in and you start looking. Where do you look for a particular product or service that you’re looking for? Let’s say accounting. Right. Because that’s very similar to law firms. If I don’t have an accountant, I want to go. I start maybe look at YouTube videos. I might go on Google to look at this. I may even go as far as to see and stop into a location and go take a look at that. That is essentially the customer journey. And the reason I’m telling you this is because the customer journey is not linear. It’s not the way it used to be. You didn’t have the Yellow Pages. You posted it. You had the big, you know, one page ad in the Yellow Pages. So you knew you were guaranteed to get that phone call as a law firm. Not so. Right. So you have to have it fully defined in your mind and as part of your strategy, as your overall strategy for the business, who your customer is.

Grace: [00:14:01] Who is it that you’re trying to target? And all of that will define exactly the intake process. Even down to your marketing process, because it’s helping you understand who your people are and why you’re going to be doing what you’re doing and also how to do it. In this case, the intake people, how you’re going to treat them, how you’re going to teach them how to treat other people and basically make it in their mind that they understand that the people that you’re taking care of are there types of mothers, brothers, sisters, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s super important to understand who your target is, who your market is, because your intake people will in turn treat them that way and also understand that these people are. Like mothers, brothers, sisters, just like everyone else. But specific to what your practice areas are and the people that you deal with. I’ll give you a really specific example. Unfortunately, you know, in this world we have sexual abuse cases. People who handle sexual abuse cases and particularly specifically for intake on that will be a different type of person that can handle a simple slip and fall. Although, of course, slip of fall is not always ever simple, right? Somebody is injured, somebody is hurt. So no matter what, it’s never a simple intake.

Liel: [00:15:25] But the gravity and the difference between a sexual abuse case and take as opposed to a slip and fall and take, everybody knows and we understand that that is different. Right. So just know your target market, know your practice areas and understand who your people are that are doing the intake and who they’re speaking to so that they have the appropriate level of empathy, understanding and questioning. Makes sense?

Liel: [00:15:53] Yes, Grace, so, Grace, is it fair to say that if your friends have a sense of urgency, then that should translate for your team to as well? Your team should acknowledge that and should also respond in the same way.

Grace: [00:16:08] That’s right. It always comes from the top, right? It has to do with the timeliness of the company as a whole and in stealing that sense of urgency in your intake team and everybody in your firm.

Liel: [00:16:20] And so, Grace, you have a lot of exposure to the insights operations of a law firm. What are things that law firms can do? OK, as you are now saying, it all starts from the top. What are things that law firms can do to make intake a priority?

Grace: [00:16:36] So the whole idea is to be there when they need you. Right. So you should be there in in the way that they prefer to communicate with you, whatever that method of communication is, whether it’s they want to do an intake on the phone, they want to do an intake through a chat bot. They want to do an intake via a form, plus some phone call, whatever it is. Be there when they need you. And in the method with which they want to communicate with you and to do that, you have to have processes in place and systems in place to help and provide tools to your intake team. And that comes from the top. And the same with the attitude and ideas behind making sure that you are taking care of each and every single person as if it was your only client. OK. There’s there’s always a balance in that, of course, you know, but it comes from the top in in providing that corporate culture of empathy, understanding and not sacrificing quality for quantity. Right. As we were discussing before this episode even started, we we really discussed that a lot, I’d say, because, you know, that’s such a big deal and can be such a problem in timeliness. Right. Trying to get it. Make sure that you have a process or a system in place to get a hold of that person. Let’s say that they filled out a form and you say you’re going to contact them in 30 minutes. No offense. Don’t ever contact a person 30 minutes later. You need to do it within five minutes. I’m sorry. That is the goal. If you cannot do it within five minutes. OK, fine. I will give you the pass a little bit for 30 minutes. But guess what? They’re not going to give you that pass. They’re going to be filling out that form for the next law firm. And then guess what? You lose that deal.

Liel: [00:18:32] I actually, Grace, have there also a good solution, particularly for web forums. So sometimes people complete web forums because of many different reasons. Maybe they’re not available for a conversation at a time or not. So just ask when your web form. When are you available to talk? Right. Get the information that’s gonna make it easier for you to get back to the client. And so if they did not provided you with that information, well, just as Grace mentioned to you, the sense of urgency is the moment you get to the web from ReachOut. However, if they’ve specify a specific preference, then you make yourself that you marker it in your calendar. Save yourself a reminder in asana, slack, wherever you want and you’re calling that prospect whenever is that they’re available.

Liel: [00:19:24] The other thing, Grace and I’m sorry, because I know that you were on a flow, but you also mentioned. Right. Like nowadays, particularly small firms, there’s so many platforms where you can but you can make yourself available for intake.

Liel: [00:19:39] Be that, you know, Facebook Messenger, what’s up for business, write your life, chat on your Web site in a lot of people jump writing to all of these platforms and make themselves available there. But what’s really, really important is that if you’re going to enable Facebook Messenger, then there better be someone paying attention to what’s happening in Facebook.

Liel: [00:20:04] So whenever somebody is starting a conversation with you and Facebook, you respond not within five minutes. Like as if it was a live chat. Right.

Liel: [00:20:15] And I think there is still a very, very, very big number of law firms who have not yet understood that, you know, being presenting a certain platform and opening up the door to people who have conversations with you in that platform is very, very powerful. But it can also backfire big time if you’re not responsive to that. Do you agree with this Grace?

Grace: [00:20:45] Oh Liel, it goes right back to what we said from the beginning. Don’t spend the money in this case, the effort or time if you don’t have the people to enter the calls. And it works the same with any platform you put them on, right. Whether it’s a Facebook messenger, WhatsApp messenger, ALO, Google Call, it doesn’t matter. You need to have the people to actually respond. If you put that method out of communication.

Liel: [00:21:09] That’s right, Grace. And so moving on now to the next element. And it’s something that I think just as we were covering the first one, like it was still hard to talk about in date without, you know, where another referencing the importance of empathy. Right. So let’s start here by just understanding what’s the definition of empathy, empathy. And according to Wikipedia, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. OK.

Liel: [00:21:39] The way I explain it to myself is understand the person’s needs at an emotional level. What does this mean, Grace? When we are implementing and practicing empathy in the intake process, how does empathy comes to play in intake?

Grace: [00:21:57] So in intake specifically, I think the most important thing to remember is these people are calling you in a time of pain, need and help, right.

Liel: [00:22:06] They’re going back to the example, as you were saying, of sexual abuse, like imagine takingin the home.

Grace: [00:22:13] So as much as you can and as you said, it’s emotional understanding of what someone else is going through. Not just sympathy, it’s empathy. It’s truly feeling and understanding what they’re going through. And so in their coming to a law firm, because they’re hurt because there’s a problem. So just starting there, they’re in a vulnerable state. So it’s super important that you as the intake specialist and as possibly the first contact with these people.

Grace: [00:22:44] Right. Isn’t that what you said before? I mean, this is possibly the very first contact that I have with this law firm, correct? You are empathetic. I mean, lawyers aren’t known to be warm, are they? I mean, what do you think of unfortunately, when I think of a lot of really bad jokes and lawyers. Right. So you need to kind of. 

Liel: [00:23:04] Throw a few warm lawyers out.

Grace: [00:23:05] There’s plenty. We know all of them. Right. But this is what the mentality is. You’re going in, you’re hurt and there’s a problem. So empathy and having that understanding in the law firm as the intake specialist being the first kind of point of contact with these prospects. I mean, how important is that to you? I mean, something simple. You go into a store to buy a piece of clothing. If the person comes to you and says, “oh, I have a shirt like that or I understand why you want this” or Doesn’t that make you feel good? Now think about just getting. 

Liel: [00:23:39] Hurt. 

Grace: [00:23:41] To hold a level.

Liel: [00:23:45] Grace, listen, here’s here’s my thing. This is why I think empathy is so important. First of all, it helps you building trust with people. And that’s going to be critical. Like no one’s going to hire an attorney that they’re not trusting you. And so empathy. It’s an enabler for trust. Now, the other very, very powerful thing the practicing empathy will do to you is that it will allow you to understand what worries, what bothers, what concerns your prospect has. So you can talk directly to your ability to impact that situation in which they are in soul, but in a way that is meaningful to them, I think.

Liel: [00:24:31] And I’ve seen this happen over and over again.

Liel: [00:24:35] I’ll give you here an example. Let’s think of an injured Hispanic worker and they’re injured and in pain. However, that’s not their main concern. Their main concern is that they get injured at work and they’re afraid to lose their job. And so when they reach out to the law firm to inquire about their situation and what they can do about it, they’re putting all of the focus on attention into them being afraid, or getting fired from work or how this could impact to their legal status and whatnot. And it may very well be that the law firm is more interested in concern about the gravity of the injury and getting into medical and getting them in for medical treatment. And so when you are bypassing the concerns of your prospect, the individual, the person behind the call, and you’re not addressing those and you’re not putting enough attention and effort in true understanding and helping them understand, how is it that you’re going to hopefully the whole situation, including what matters to them, then you’re basically not connecting, you’re losing the ability to be relevant to what this person is feeling and what they truly need and. 

Grace: [00:25:57] What they truly need.

Liel: [00:25:58] Yes. Yeah. So that’s. 

Grace: [00:26:01] A good point, Liel. I don’t mean to interrupt you, but I really want to expound a little bit on your point because.

Liel: [00:26:07] Sure.

Grace: [00:26:07] It’s such a big deal, right? I mean, the first thing you think of as an intake specialist is always, you know, get that retainer agreement signed. Get that, you know, or find out. Is it really a true case? Whereas it could be. And the most important thing is don’t talk at cross-purposes with this person to person wants to explain what happened to them, their fears, their concerns. And all you have to do is listen a lot of times. Sometimes they don’t even want you to say anything necessarily. They just want the opportunity to talk about what happened to them and for you to be the first person to actually listen without looking for something. Right. So give them a safe place to speak. And, you know, obviously, it is a law firm, right, guys? And so this is a hard thing. But there is a line between being empathetic and allowing it to go on too long as well. We can discuss that probably in another one. But that’s such a that is a big concern for a lot of law firms. You know, they don’t want the people talking on the phone for, you know, an hour before they even ask for signing a signed agreement, let’s say.

Grace: [00:27:17] But, you know, I think it is a very important point. And I think that what you said is so important to remember. Talk to them as human beings. Talk to them as people that got hurt. Yeah. Not.

Liel: [00:27:27] And I think Grace, like you can retain as a as an intake agent. You can retain control over the conversation and guide the conversation towards obtaining the information that you need in order to really be able to define what are you’re gonna be able to help the caller or not. There there’s still an empathetic way of examining that. And there is the way of doing it in which you are just trying to dispatch callers as if you were taking pizza at Domino’s Pizza.

Liel: [00:27:56] And it’s really not that. So I want to go back to something that you said on the previous point is you want to make feel that person that is calling you as if you’ve been sitting there all day waiting for their call in when you’re actually talking to them, you want them to feel that they have your full attention and that you are deeply interested in what they’re saying to you. They don’t need to know that this has been the ninth call that you’ve received in the day of a car accident and that you are getting ready to go for lunch.

Liel: [00:28:37] That’s not the kind of things that should be reflective on your intake technique. Grace, what other tips do we have for our listeners when it comes down to practicing empathy?

Grace: [00:28:52] So I think in practicing empathy, it’s important to remember that people are divulging very, very personal information. So in practicing empathy, I think it would be important and possibly, you know, probably the most important idea and training that you could do is role-playing. I mean, if you can have them, of course, understand the different drugs or practice areas that you have or different, you know, talk about mass torts specifically. But let’s say any practice area that you have understanding the different injuries that people could have, understanding the different ways that they can provide them with a sense of comfort that we are here to take care of you.

Grace: [00:29:36] And we, as the firm are here to take care of you. And we are here to take care of all of your problems that are ongoing with this particular injury that you’re experiencing. So I think it’s super important what Liel said, and that’s probably number one is make them feel like they’re the only ones on that phone and that they have your full attention forever. You know, even if it takes five minutes, it takes 10 minutes. Even if you don’t end up taking the case, it doesn’t matter why. Because a prospect is potential client is a potential client no matter what.

Liel: [00:30:10] Yes, I love that. Grace. And we’re going to actually at some point come back to that. But here’s the tip limit that the legal jargon is people. There are no law students. They don’t necessarily understand your terminology. So make it easy for them to understand and speak in terms that they can relate to. That’s all I have. Grace, do you have anything else about empathy?

Grace: [00:30:32] No. No. I mean related to empathy. I know we talk about marketing all the time and this is specifically about intake, but it’s the same thing with marketing people, right? When we tell you all these buzz words. SEO, SEM, PPC etc, etc. Well, guess what? We don’t you don’t want to hear it. Neither does your clients. They don’t want to hear the legal jargon. They could care less. Just tell me how you can help me and what you’re going to do to help me. That’s it.

Liel: [00:30:59] Absolutely. Absolutely.

Liel: [00:31:02] So I think we’re ready to move on to our third element, which is to have a telephone etiquette, be consistent, implement set standards and measure up against them.

Liel: [00:31:17] Now, let me explain a little bit more as to what telephone etiquette is. Telephone etiquette covers everything from the way in which you greet a caller to the process that they will follow throughout the conversation. And it will also define the thumb that you want to use in some particular expressions that you believe in and that you would like to be consistently used by your team. So let’s start with the most basic right, the greeting. So I’ve encountered many, many times people who just answer their law firm by just saying lawfirm. And sometimes when you’re just a new caller, that doesn’t translate into a warm welcome experience. So here is a good example. OK, start by greeting according to the time of the day, name of your business, your name and then how can I assist you? It will sound something like this. “Good morning. Thank you for calling the Smith law firm. My name is Liel. How can I assist you?” Now notice as well the pace of the greeting. Not because it’s something that it’s formal script that you wanted it to sound as if it was a sentence that you’re pronouncing in one breath of air. You want to make sure that it’s understandable, it’s paused. And that your phone is actually warm as your mentioning that it’s so important, Grace. And this is going back to what you were saying, right? This is the first interaction that many prospects are having with your law firm. You wanted to be a good one and a positive one. I’m a firm believer of first impressions and humans making decisions and judgments based on first impressions. And so think about it from that standpoint. Now, a personal advice that I would also add on into these particular gridding is thank the callers for contacting you instead of just saying good afternoon. Smith law firm. Thank the callers. Good afternoon and thank you for calling the Smith law firm. My name is Liel.

Liel: [00:33:37] And so in so thinking, the callers go back to the fact that people have plenty of choices. Don’t. Think for a second that you’re entitled to any of the phone calls that you’re receiving. People have plenty of options.

Liel: [00:33:53] And the fact that you’re acknowledging that a chose to call view speaks to the value that you are giving to your clients and how much appreciation you have for them. And so I think it’s a it’s a good way to relate a message. It may be a little bit old school. Grace, I’m going to be very honest with you. I mean, these are the kind of thinking methods that the Ritz-Carlton usefully spy in the 80s. But I’ll tell you what, it works. And so if you’re implementing things that have been tested, trialed, you may see some really amazing results in your law firm.

Liel: [00:34:30] So we spoke about speaking calmly and clearly and tried to ensure that your environment around is free of background roses. That can also be very distracting and stressful when your people are trying to complete intake. And there’s a bunch of noise coming from the background. OK, here’s another thing, Grace. I’m surprised. I’m amazed by the number of times that intake happens and no name is asked. Until almost the end of the conversation. First, there is the operational reasons why you want to get that data upfront, right? The call gets disconnected. You want to make sure you have the name, the telephone number, things that you can get back to these first, then should something hopping throughout the call. But it’s not just about that from the client experience standpoint. It’s a great opportunity to further personalize the call and the experience. If you’re getting the cross-fixed name, that means that now you can use their name throughout the conversation. And my recommendation would be is depending on the length of the call for you to use it at least two times. Now the relation is more vivid and it feels that you’ve developed a personal connection. As I’ve said, if you have a caller I.D. in place, then confirm whether that number where the quotes coming from is a good number for you to keep us as a contact. You can repeat the telephone back to make sure that you have it correct.

Liel: [00:35:59] But one thing that is extremely and very annoying and now I’m talking about as a consumer is when you have to provide your contact and personal details over a phone call. We kind of understand and it’s necessary, but it’s still annoying. Right. So whatever it is that you can do to ease that and to make that less of a thing, it’s going to translate to a better call experience. Grace asking permission before placing a caller on hold. Now, when callers actually give you the green light to hold. Don’t abuse it. OK. There is endless amount of times that I’ve seen callers being placed on hold for six minutes, and that’s unacceptable. That’s ridiculous. OK. If you’re putting someone on hold, make sure that they hold those unless more than a minute. If it has to last more than a minute, get back to the caller. Explain why you need an extension and ask for permission to extend the wait time.

Grace: [00:36:59] And wait for the answer before you put them back on hold. Yes, I know it seems simple, but people seem to derail .

Liel: [00:37:08] You were you’re just. You took the words out of my mouth. Literally. Literally. You jump at me and took words out of my mouth. OK, never answer a call and immediately ask to place the caller on hold without them even being able to say hi.

Liel: [00:37:31] “Smith Law firm. This is Liel. Can I please please you in a hold? Thank you.”

Liel: [00:37:35] Never unacceptable. Never, never, never, never do that. OK. 

Liel: [00:37:40] Answer the call. Let them speak and then politely ask for permission to place them on hold. Grace when transferring a call, communicate all relevant details to the colleague that you are sending the call to so that the person, your prospect, or client does not have to repeat themselves. I cannot stress how important this is. And when we will talk about CRMS w, it will become very evident why CRMs are a great solution for these kinds of communication challenges. But it’s very important that all the information that has been already lied to you by the caller, you can pass it on to whoever is going to be assisting the caller from that point on. And here’s another one. If you are actually setting up an appointment and the caller will be coming to your office, offered to send them the address, the ethics message, going back to the exchange of personal and contact details. It’s just part of what we sometimes have to do in calls. But there are ways that we can make this process less of a hassle and send your contacts to text message with your address. Not only we’ll make it easier for them to have to figure out a way to write it down while they’re probably not in a place or with things to allow them to do so, but it also potentially allow them to just click on an number cellphone, and open up their GPS and get driving directions and make it. They will make it much easier for them to be able to get to your job. Of course, if you have some more advance software like PERSIST or other software that will send actual calendary invites and messages with reminders and so forth and so on, that’s already going to be covered. But now, because we’re just talking about very, very, very basic solutions, that’s something that you can implement and do in a very easy and with low technology capacities. OK. Grace, am I. Am I leaving anything out when it comes down to telephone etiquette? Is there anything else that you can think of that will make for a good telephone technique that has not been mentioned?

Grace: [00:40:01] Not so much anything you left out. You didn’t leave anything out. I think what’s important to remind people here is to actually test out your systems so you can say you put all these things in place. But do you actually call in, see how long it takes to be on the phone, how long it takes for someone to answer? How long does it take for them to put you on hold? You need to go through the process as if you were a prospector, kind of the firm as a current client and as a potential client both. If you have two separate paths, let’s say, for the customer journey in your phone processes or your phones. Right. So you need to make sure you go through it as a new client, a potential client and any other practice area as you may have. If you have different phone numbers, you need to test. Test. Test. Test. Check. Check. Check. Check. And make sure that all of it is running in correctly. Because that is essentially part of telephone etiquette is how long you’re leaving them on the phone, how long you’re leaving them in this queue by not responding to them, and all those different things that Liel mentioned as well. So to me, that’s all part and parcel of telephone etiquette.

Grace: [00:41:09] Make sure you test it, check it yourself and call all the phone numbers that you have out there and make sure that the customer journey is what you think it should be and what you’ve planned for it to be.

Liel: [00:41:22] Absolutely, Grace, and the other thing also to keep in mind is that while we were calling this telephone etiquette, a lot of these steps, processes and techniques should also be applied for in-person conversation, for email conversations, for text messages, for life chats. The principles are the same. And so it’s very to. 

Grace: [00:41:42] I actually have an example. I don’t mean to interrupt your flow, but I worked at Target for five years as one of the managers and there’s very, very specific training at Target. Right. It comes from corporate. And they have a greeting. They have a very specific greeting that you must say each and every time you see a client come into the door or it comes in your aisle, even it’s a “good morning or good afternoon. My name is Grace. Welcome to Target. How may I help you today?” So it’s not that old school, right? Is it? This is customer service and this is something that has to be done no matter what. Yeah. So I think it kind of completes my little case study that I wanted to give. Thank you.

Liel: [00:42:26] Thank you very much for that. Grace, let’s move on. In part of this telephone etiquette process. So. Grace, let’s face it. Right. There are times when not every single call can get answered by a live agent when it is okay to use an automated answering service. And when we should actually try to have all calls answered life by our life agent.

Grace: [00:42:57] So I’ll just tell you, from my own experience, whenever we have, you know, regular operating hours, we do our best to have a live person answer. However, if there is a large amount of, let’s say, marketing going out for a particular tort or anything like that, we do have overflow, meaning it will try to go through different people within our firm. But if they cannot answer, then it goes to an answering service unless it is something that is maybe not so urgent. Let’s say a sense of urgency than it could possibly go to a voice mailbox. But we very, very rarely do that because that is probably the last thing you should ever do is to have it to go to voicemail. I would say, you know, answering services are kind of last resort even.

Liel: [00:43:49] Ok. So here’s what I’m hearing. I’m hearing live agent a priority. Right.

Liel: [00:43:55] And I guess in everyone’s ideal world, that would be a great solution. But the reality is that sometimes you have you may have multiple practice areas going on in your law firm. You may have agents that are qualified to speak different languages. And so in order to route calls to the right person, you may want to implement a greeting, recording our menu with a menu option that will allow for calls to be directed to the relevant party that’s going to be best suitable for a system. So would it be fair that when you are in that kind of situation, when you’re out when you’re implementing code flow in order to better serve your customers, is it acceptable?

Grace: [00:44:40] It has to be done, right? because you need to be able to speak to them in the language they need. So you’re 100% right, Liel. You have it like that.

Liel: [00:44:49] Right. And so here’s the thing. It’s perfectly fine for you to want to separate between your first-time callers and your existing clients. And if you one to route, your Spanish speaking clients, the particular agent that speaks Spanish. Those are things that you definitely have to set up a system for. And a call flow system will allow you to do that. Then it’s great for that to be implemented. I guess what we don’t encourage is for us to go in the path of queuing up calls because other tasks are being set up as more important than actually talking to potential new clients. Right. And so that’s the danger of sometimes activating these systems and not necessarily making a priority for calls to get answered as are coming is you don’t know what you cannot see. And when you’re not seeing or hearing the phones ringing, you may not necessarily be fully aware of the call volume that you have.

Liel: [00:45:58] And what’s happening on your telephone lines. So so make sure that you’re not falling victim to not knowing and understanding because of this system, managing it for you and taking a hands-off approach.

Liel: [00:46:15] So, Grace, I think we’re ready for our last point. Which is always…

Grace: [00:46:23] ABC BABY.

Liel: [00:46:24] Always be closing ABC.

Liel: [00:46:27] So here’s why we’re saying that we should always be closing. And you and I were having this conversation right before we started recording.

Liel: [00:46:37] Is that the purposes intake is to serve as a bridge from conversion to retention? And your goal is to be fine as an intake agent. Your goal is to define what is the next step to bring your prospects closer to the solution that they’re looking for.

Liel: [00:46:56] And for them to become side clients for your law firm. So Grace. Explain a little bit more. Why is that? You think agents need to serve as a guide, not just as a source of information or as you were referring to when we were talking about empathy.

Liel: [00:47:20] Sometimes someone who’s just very good at empathizing with people but not bringing things down to a resolution. So, explain.

Grace: [00:47:32] So it’s your job essentially to take them along the customer journey and to help them. Right. Because that’s why they’re calling you. That’s always the reason that you should always be closing is because they’re calling you to look for help. They’re not calling only to have a conversation.

Grace: [00:47:51] They’re calling because they found they had a need. They found you. And now they want you to solve that problem. So you whenever you’re speaking to them, you need to have that in your mind that. Yes, I’m here to listen to the issue. I’m here to take down all the important information that we need. I’m here to help them. But you’re there to control the conversation, to get them to the ultimate goal of helping them. How do you help them? By getting them to sign a retainer agreement. And so you always, always need to have it in the back of your mind that the whole goal of this conversation is to have an action taken at the end. And so you always need to make the ask and you need to have that idea that the whole point of this is to help them in the end. And the only way you can help them is if they sign a contract saying that you’re allowed to help them.

Grace: [00:48:42] So you need to control the conversation from beginning to end. And I think is really good at explaining what controlling the conversation kind of means because we were discussing that before we started recording. Do you mind explaining a little bit about controlling the conversation? Do you mind, Liel?

Liel: [00:48:57] Yes, Grace. And so here’s the thing that really frustrates me.

Liel: [00:49:05] When we are auditing intake calls for clients as part of quality control is when the intake staff just are not leading the conversation. Right. And so most of times when that happens, the call ends with the prospect saying, “OK, I’ll call again if I need help.” And you’ll be surprised. But sometimes you can reach that point like they’ve reached that point without even having collected some basic information. Now, locally, because of tracking and so forth and so on, we do have telephone numbers and contact details, but still those things need to get confirmed over the conversation. And sometimes it’s not happening. So let me slide out a few phrases that tend to lead to this kind of situation. Here’s one.

Liel: [00:49:56] “When would you like to come for an appointment?” Too open Grace. Too open? People are in distress. We’ve said it so many times over this conversation. People want guidance.

Liel: [00:50:12] People respond better when you tell them what to do. Exchange. “When would you like to come for an appointment?” To “I understand you want to find out a solution to your problem. I can move things around to get you an appointment for this afternoon. Can you make it?” Right now you’re letting them know that you care about solving a problem and that you’re using all your power to try to get them to a solution as fast as you can. And they appreciate that they feel special. And now you’re also committing them to come. Now, when things are hot, right. When would you like to come for an appointment? Doesn’t work. That should not be a way that we ask and invite people to come in for a consultation.

Grace: [00:51:01] Ok, no open-ended questions, that’s right.

Liel: [00:51:04] You can call us back any time.

Liel: [00:51:08] You can call us back anytime. OK. Not a good phrase to use on an intake call. Instead, try this: “Would you prefer for a meet to follow up with you in the morning or the afternoon?” Establish when the next conversation is gonna take place. It doesn’t matter. I understand sometimes people need to talk to the husband, need to talk to the cousin, with la comadre. Right. And so it’s very important that we define when are we gonna follow up from that?

Liel: [00:51:49] And so always take the lead in that. And then there is going a little bit back to empathy, I guess. Also, it’s just because we had this conversation. Grace, You’ve pushed on it, the right the good cases, the bad cases, but they’re all colors and they all can at some point become a potential client to your law firm. And so here is another phrase that I often hear and I see it as short-sighted. “We only take these blank space cases.”

Liel: [00:52:22] Ok, you insert there whatever your practice area is where you’ll most preferred cases or your most profitable cases. OK. Instead, why don’t you try? “Please tell me, what can we help you with?” It doesn’t matter if you can take or not the client’s case. You already called you, and if you take a few minutes to give them some guidance, they will come back again. The data they will need your help or refer someone to you.

Liel: [00:52:52] Now, here is something even better. Right. You may not be able to help them, but you may be able to send them to the local bar where somebody in trouble or maybe you know, someone that you can refer to. Ok. And here’s what’s even better. Right. Where you can actually turn these into who knows, maybe even a potential positive review. Caal them a couple of days later and ask them, was whomever your referral or state bar able to help you? Right. And just the sole fact that you’re following up with them, that even though that you who are not going to be taking on their case, cares enough to spend a minute or two to call back and find out how they’re going and if they were able to find l mean so much to them that you can potentially look down someone for life, OK?

Liel: [00:53:48] They could potentially now be someone who going to be so loyal to you, they’ll send you referrals and they’ll come to you whenever is that they need your services. And so that’s why I call it short-sighted, is you do not you should not take for granted any of the calls you were you were getting and using some of these statements like we only take this kind of cases speaks to taking that kind of attitude toward callers. And as I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again now, any caal is a gift to you and you should be appreciated of it and you should treat it as if it’s someone who could become your best client either now or in the future.

Liel: [00:54:33] Grace. I think that that we are wrapping up on our basic elements for client-oriented intake. And so let’s do our takeaways. Takeaway number one, making take a priority. Why, Grace? Why we make the intake a priority?

Grace: [00:54:54] People don’t shop around. That’s so important. Right. It’s important because it’s the lifeblood of your business. And intake is. I mean, that’s really it. It’s the lifeblood of your business. Guys like. I can’t say that enough.

Liel: [00:55:11] Absolutely. So as we’ve heard in this episode, people will at most call two law firms firms and then they’ll make a decision. So if you’re one of those two, you better make sure to capture or at least because they’re not going to give you multiple calls to be spot on. Grace, we need to be timely and we need to be available. Right. And it ties back to what we’ve just mentioned. If we’re gonna open up intake windows across all platforms, then we need to make sure that we have a presence there that can act upon inquiries as they are coming. Grace, how long should it take for us to reply to a WhatsApp question for our law firm?

Grace: [00:55:58] Nearly instantaneous.

Liel: [00:55:59]  Correct. Now, moving on, practice empathy grace. You’re the psychologist here. Why are we doing? Why do we need to practice empathy? Remind us once again because we cannot hear at least enough empathy.

Grace: [00:56:17] You need to practice empathy, not just to help your client or potential client, but also to lead the conversation, right. To help guide them to the ultimate goal of helping the people that you’re. They called you for. So help them with what they called you for a system. And the only way to do that is by being empathetic. Yes.

Liel: [00:56:40] Agree. Next call. Implement telephone etiquette. In other words, Grace, be professional. And one thing that you mention. And it’s really, really, really super important. Make sure it’s happening. If you’re doing it through a third party, make sure that you’re also running audits on them. Make sure that you’re implementing or recording for quality control. All of these things need to be monitored on and everyone involved in the process should be held accountable for what’s happening in the intake process. Now, Grace, I let you do the last one, which we’ve just covered because I know you like the acronym ABC.

Grace: [00:57:23] I do. How can you tell? Don’t forget, guys. Always be closing. Always have it in the back of your mind that you’re here to help them. And the only way you can help them is by getting them to sign a retainer so that they sign a contract for services so that you can actually help them. So. Always be closing. Be empathetic, but always close that deal, guys. This is ultimately for you to help them. And they came to you for a reason. They want your help. So ask for it. Ask for them to sign that contract and get that retainer agreement signed. Always be closing. Guys can emphasize that part enough.

Liel: [00:58:05] Grace, I’m so glad that I like to talk about that last takeaway because I could not have done that better.

Liel: [00:58:11] So that is all that we have for you. For this first episode on intake and retention. Thank you very much for listening. And we’re looking forward to talking to you next week. Thank you. And this is in camera, private legal marketing conversations.

Liel: [00:58:30] If you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Tell your co-workers. Leave us a review and send us your questions at: ask@incamerapodcast.com We’ll see you next week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.